March 2024

Singita Kruger National Park


Singita Kruger National Park: March 2024

After an unusually dry February and scorching start to this month, we were finally blessed with some rain as Tropical Cyclone Filipo made landfall in Mozambique during the middle of the month, spilling over into the eastern parts of Kruger National Park, and transforming our concession from the early autumn oranges and yellows into a once again green landscape. Butterflies and beetles are so abundant, it’s as if they never left. The European bee-eaters are gathering in numbers as they, and many of the other migrants prepare for the long flight back north at the end of this month. The misty early mornings hint that winter is on the way.

A Sightings Snapshot for March follows:


The first half of the month saw the Shish Pride spending most of their time west of our concession, enjoying the plethora of zebra, wildebeest and waterbuck on the basalt plains, with multiple sightings of them on the H6. However, with the mid-month rains, the Shish Pride returned to hunt in the open areas near where the Ntsimbitsane drainage meets the N’wanetsi River. All 14 cubs are healthy and growing bigger every day.

Two cubs from the Mananga Pride were seen once early this month moving west into the stickythorns with one of the females and sub-adults. Thereafter only small portions of the pride adults were seen, mostly along the S41 between the N’wanetsi River and Mananga trails. We believe they had moved the den-site to the west of our concession somewhere south of the S100 and west of S41. At the end of the month however, seven cubs were seen at stickythorn quarry and the next morning they were back at the original den we found them at almost a month ago, in the stickythorns in the centre of our concession, with three nursing females. It appears as though two of the original nine cubs might have not survived, but this is still to be confirmed. It is a harsh reality with lions though. Being so small and defenceless means that infant mortality is high amongst this top predator.

The “outcasts” from the Mananga Pride, the four young sub-adults who chose to save themselves from potential injury and death when they fled from the pride as the Trichardt males started taking over last year, have been seen on a few occasions this month, but never together. The youngest female has been hanging around the central depression and west from there. Her sister was seen chasing a wildebeest in the same area but sadly appeared to have been injured from not only the wildebeest but we suspect, also another predator, whether it was hyenas or lions is hard to tell, but her back and legs were severely scratched.

The Trichardt males were seen with a few Mananga lionesses near the beginning of the month feeding on a waterbuck carcass on the S41 just north of the Gudzane drainage before moving back west out of our concession. Two weeks later they reappeared at the most northern edge of our concession and were seen mating with a lioness. A few days later they trekked all the way south to check in on the Shish Pride and their cubs.

The Maputo male and Xai-Xai have also been seen mating with a single lioness in the northern regions of the concession.

With the Mananga Pride spending more time south of the Gudzane Dam, an unnamed pride of at least six females has been seen recurrently northwest of the dam and on the S41 near Mananga Trails. The younger members appear to be rather nervous around vehicles compared to the older females.

At the end of the month, we were treated to a great interaction between these six females, Xai-Xai and Maputo trying to keep hyenas away from their zebra carcass.


As most of our sub-adult leopards have officially separated from their mothers and are beginning to establish themselves as adults, the guide and tracking team at Singita Kruger National Park have decided to give the unnamed leopards official names. (More on this in our wildlife article below.)

The son of Dumbana female, previously known as Dumbana 3:3 (his mother’s name and his spot pattern) is now Kalanga, referring to his inclination to hunt baboons. He has been spending the majority of this month along the N’wanetsi River around Daves’s Crossing. He then turned up in the central parts of our concession, showing that he was exploring areas to settle in as his territory.

His brother, Dumbana 1:1 (also his mother’s name and his spot pattern) has been named Nitavuya (nita vuya, the Shangaan for “I will come back”. He has previously moved out of our concession only to return a month later. Unfortunately, the last we heard of him was over a month ago when he was seen near Orpen Gate.

The Dumbana female and her cubs left beautiful tracks for us to find many mornings, but due to her den-site being presumed to be up on Milk-berry Ridge and virtually inaccessible to vehicles, we have not been able to view the tiny cubs until the end of the month when the trio was found feeding on an impala carcass in the valley east of the Milk-berry Road. We estimate the cubs to be around five months old now so should start moving further from the den in the coming weeks.

Nhlanguleni’s daughter with the spot pattern 4:3, has been named Madaka (pronounced madaga), and has been seen more frequently. First near Double Crossing in a large jackalberry tree and then later in the month feeding on a kudu calf in a marula tree. Her sister, with the spot count 4:4, has been named Nhungu, meaning “eight” in Shangaan. She was seen twice this month, once not too far from where her mother was feeding on an impala carcass in a tree.

Who we used to refer to as the Plains male has now been renamed Zamani male in remembrance of Christoff, our friend and legendary tracker who sadly passed away this month (Zamani was Christoff’s first name). Zamani is a beautiful, strong and regal male leopard that occupies territory around the Gudzane Dam and the open basalt plains nearby.

The Lebombo male is holding his territory along the N’wanetsi River, but due to the rains, has not been sighted as often as in previous months.

The Mondzo male continues to move just along the edges of Lebombo’s territory, making another encounter inevitable.

African wild dogs

An uncollared and therefore supposedly newly formed pack of five males and one female have been present this month, roaming between the H6 in the south to where they were seen hunting impala on the basalt plains west of the Xinkelegaan drainage in the northern regions of our concession.


A single female cheetah has been seen this month near the stickythorn quarry. She was spotted after following up on vulture activity. It appears that she might have killed an impala, fed, and moved to the west.

Spotted hyenas

Majority of the hyena sightings were of solitary individuals moving along the roads in the early morning and evenings, heads held high sniffing the air.

The clan is still denning north of the hyena crossing in the Lebombo Mountains with up to three cubs present sometimes. Due to proximity, it was likely members of this clan that were staring down the Shish Pride one morning.

Another clan of five were seen moving around the central depression.

The Maputo male, Xai-Xai and the unnamed pride from the north were surrounded by a clan of 11 hyenas nervously waiting for the remains of a zebra carcass but not daring to get too close to the two large male lions.


At the start of the month, when all was still dusty and dry, and we whispered fears of a drought, the elephants were plentiful. Hundreds lined the N’wanetsi River and the last pools in the Xinkelegane drainage. One lucky guide and her guests were fortunate enough to witness four separate herds congregate into one massive herd of over a hundred elephants and mud wallow “on the go” through Pony Pan, like a conveyor belt, which at that time was one of the last muddy pans available to ease the heat from the sun. Now that the vegetation is once again lush and green after our late rains, these large pachyderms seem to have spread out once again. We are however noticing a change in their diet from the now-drying grass to the nutritious inner bark and moisture-rich roots as they rip up and push over more and more trees.


A large herd of buffalo were seen moving out of the northwestern region of our concession early this month, as well as another herd of about 200 strong, moving back and forth across the H6, seen on a few occasions on the way to the Satara airstrip. It is one old “Dagga Boy” (the local name for the old bulls) though, that has dominated our sightings this month. Determined to live another day, he still moves between the N’wanetsi River and its smaller tributaries cutting through the Lebombo mountains.

Plains game

The basalt plains through which the H6 winds from the Satara airstrip to Singita is an awe-inspiring scene, often with over one hundred zebras congregated together. The wildebeest and impala come in a close second place as they dart across the grassland with their young at their side.

Kudu and waterbuck area plentiful along the river, and with the grasses becoming noticeably shorter, even the tiny steenbuck and duiker are being seen more frequently now.

Rare animals and other sightings:

A side-striped jackal was heard calling from the Shishangaan staff village.

A lucky guide and tracker spotted a serval hunting on their way back to the lodge one evening.

A shy, unnamed leopard was seen stalking a honey badger, completely unaware of the leopard’s presence, only to shuffle away with a confident swagger a few moments later.

Midway through the month, one of our senior trackers, spotted a pair of Temminck’s pangolin tracks near Pony Pan as well as on Ntsimbitsane. Being predominantly nocturnal, small, and the same colour as the soil makes these elusive animals a rare sighting, and just seeing their footprints brings a sense of satisfaction, keeping the hope alive that you may one day see a pangolin.

Jonathan Leeming joined the guiding team for a few days of scorpion and spider training and we were able to find every species of scorpion present in this area, learning the ways of these taxonomically ancient and often misunderstood creatures.


Many migrants, including the woodland kingfisher, red-backed shrike, blue-cheeked bee-eaters and European swallows are still present but have begun gathering in numbers in preparation for their northward-bound flight as we draw nearer to winter. The last rains and subsequent insect emergence are a huge advantage as they need to bulk up as much as possible to cope with the demands of their long journey. It can take the European swallows six weeks to fly an average of 200 miles per day only stopping briefly to feed and rest in large flocks.

The rare bird for this month was a single Caspian tern seen flying over the weir by one of our lucky guides. According to the bird books, this is not supposed to occur here and was probably blown in ahead of the tropical cyclone.

Ostriches have been seen around Kori Clearings, and the Western osprey was still in the area of Gudzane Dam at the beginning of this month.